Art It Out

Watercolor art

It has been years since I have taken to art. Sure, there is writing and music, both of which I take frequent moments to practice and enjoy, but drawing and painting haven’t been my go-to choice for some time. I’ve mostly converted to writing CSS. But these days, however, I have found my love for tangible art again. I can’t take all the credit for my rekindling, it’s mostly due to my children’s affinity to it. At least once a day we sit and draw, doodle, paint, etc. My oldest son (6 yo) can tell when I get a little stressed because he will say to me, “Art-it-out, dad!”

I needed more supplies though. With that comes a choice — many choices. Where did I land? For sketch and prototype drawings I use a good ol’ Graphite #2 HB Soft pencil by Ticonderoga. Purely because I have a stash large enough to kindle and light my house on fire for years to come. Why buy more? Next, the ink for illustration. I tried a couple of pens for this but ultimately found comfort in Sakura Micron pens, they come in a variety of widths and colors. Best of all, they don’t bleed with watercolors. For the record, though, I do enjoy a MUJI Gel Ink Ballpoint pen. 👌 Finally, the paint. Though our art closet has many types to choose from, I personally like to go with watercolor paints. More vexingly specific: General Pencil Kimberly Acid-Free Non-Toxic Water Soluble Watercolor Pencils and Sakura Watercolor Pencils. Both of which seem to be fine products. But, really, I’m able to use pretty much anything that comes across my desk. The canvas comes in many forms but my personal preference is cold press 300-gram watercolor paper.

As I started drawing and painting, I noticed that what my son was saying to me had some clout. I noticed my stress dissipate, I felt renewed/refreshed. These are the moments that I start to look studies up. I started reading about the benefits of a daily habit ritual — or, a hobby. I needed to affirm my feelings and found scientific evidence for the health benefits of drawing in a study in 2016 at Drexel University that found statistically significant lower levels of cortisol after 45 minutes of making art. The body typically releases cortisol, a hormone made in the adrenal gland, in response to danger, which is great if you are being chased by COVID.

In a statement given to The New York Times the author of the paper, Girija Kaimal said, “… if you are constantly feeling stressed, which is perceived as a threat by your brain, your cortisol levels will consistently be high. If you’re constantly on high alert, it puts a lot of pressure on your heart. It takes away resources from your digestive system. A series of chronic health conditions can develop if you’re not able to feel relaxed and not able to regulate down the cortisol in your body.”

For my health, that was enough for me to pick up the habit of art again. I plan to make it part of my daily journaling.